Rumi, a thirteenth century Persian poet and scholar, wrote: “Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.”
When I hear thunder, I suspect rain. One of the tasks of anger management therapy is to let the rain fall. Safe venting in therapy often precedes any effort to reframe or problem solve. Being heard at last clears the air and allows the process of reconnecting with self and learning the art of expressing anger in a more productive and non threatening way. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy offers concrete ways to de-construct dysfunctional patterns by examining not only behaviors but the thoughts that fuel the feelings that can trigger impulsive and unrestrained acting out.
Anger is an important emotion. The feeling of anger signals to us that our boundaries have been or are in danger of being crossed. Sometimes anger signals that we are afraid of overwhelm and helplessness to deal with the unfairness of life. Many times anger arises when we feel disrespected or discounted. Underneath the anger is the primary emotion of sorrow and loss.
It is not easy to unlearn the habit of thunder, especial when “thunder” seems to get results. Those who have a habit of “going off” on those around them often have a history of not having been heard when they were children. Although sometimes emotional thunder is a neurological disorder—most often it is a habit of communication that puts more trust in volume than in finding words. Anger management is an important skill that preserves the psychological and physical safety of ourselves and those around us, sometimes those we love the most.